Barcelona vs Man Utd Is Most Watched Champions League Final in U.S. History

The 2011 Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona on FOX TV in the United States was the most watched and highest-rated Champions League Final in U.S. history, according to national ratings figures released by Nielsen Media Research.

FOX and FOX Deportes generate a 2.1 household rating and 6 share, drawing an audience of 4.2 million viewers nationally, dwarfing the ratings and audience of a year ago by +75% and +91%, respectively.  The 2010 UEFA Champions League Final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, which aired on FOX and Fox Sports en Español (now FOX Deportes), combined for a 1.2 HH rating with an audience of 2.2 million.

The FOX over-the-air broadcast earned a 1.4/4 household rating/share, with an audience of 2.6 million viewers compared to a 1.0 HH rating and 1.6 million viewers a year ago, +40% in rating and +63% in audience.  Simultaneously, FOX Deportes notched a 0.7/2 rating in total US homes for this year’s match, with an audience of 1.6 million, +133% in HH rating (0.3) and +167% in audience (600,000).

Significantly, the English-language broadcast of Saturday’s match beat the 2009 Champions League Final which also featured Manchester United and Barcelona by +56% in rating (1.4 vs. 0.9) and +86% in audience (2.6 million vs. 1.4 million).  Combined, the 2011 match on FOX and FOX Deportes bettered the 2009 match by +62% on rating (2.1 vs. 1.3) and +24% on viewership (4.2 million vs. 2.1 million).

U.S. viewership of the UEFA Champions League Final has exploded in recent years. This is the seventh straight year that English-language viewing of the Champions League Final has increased in the U.S.  Over the last 10 years, viewing has increased almost 10-fold, from 264,000 viewers on ESPN in 2002 to 2.6 million on FOX this year.

Soccer continues to draw an impressively young audience.  Saturday’s match earned a 1.8 among Men 18-34 on FOX, which is +29% higher than the HH rating. It’s exceptionally rare for a sports event to be that much stronger among the younger demo than it is overall.

In terms of the Spanish-language audience, FOX Deportes’ telecast of the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final is the highest-rated ever on Spanish-language television and generated the biggest audience for any event in the history of Spanish-language sports networks.  The match attracted 1.5 million Spanish language viewers, a record for any Spanish-language sports cable network in the U.S., up +206% compared to the 2010 Champions League Final, more than tripling the number of Hispanic viewers (490,000) from a year ago.  The match pulled a 13.0 coverage area HH rating, the third-highest in the network’s history and up an incredible +152% versus last year’s 5.15 Final.

FOX Sports Media Group recently extended its contract with the UEFA Champions League through 2015.

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